by Z. Moss
Rex Bright enjoys drawing in notebooks and dreaming. He’s thirteen, and his life is ordinary. Until he sees a face in a cloud which changes everything. Rex glimpses the girl from an airplane window while travelling to his aunt and uncle’s farm for the summer. Her features are so perfect, Rex can’t believe she’s only vapor. But Cloud Girl is real. A week later, Skyclyffe, a mysterious airship cloaked in a cumulus, abducts Rex and his family. The captors expect the Brights to live in their flying city forever. And, although he’s kidnapped, Rex loves the craft filled with robots, scientific discoveries, and silvery-white beings. Before long, Rex will be forced to decide whether to escape, or if Skyclyffe and its secret wonders are worth never stepping foot on Earth again.
Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!
I used to play tenor drum in a bagpipe and drum band, and we performed on the Minnesota state capital’s steps during a memorial the Saturday after 9/11. Besides having my kids, I have never done anything more meaningful. On a lighter note, during college I worked in a 50s-meets-the-80s restaurant where I roller skated and danced on tables (but not both at the same time).
What are some of your pet peeves?
A few of my pet peeves: 1) grammatical and spelling errors on signs. 2) multiple opened containers of the same thing in the fridge or cupboard.
Who is your hero and why?
My dad. I didn’t get to grow up near him because my parents divorced when I was young, and we were 2000 miles apart. As an adult, I learned how much he cares for his family, my grandmother and grandfather, especially. He is the best storyteller, too. In fact, one of Dan’s stories in Skyclyffe is based on one of my dad’s.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Not until Skyclyffe was nearly complete, and only after I forced myself to tell someone outside of my family.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
None—but once during a family trip we slept in a covered wagon on land Laura Ingalls Wilder lived on as a kid.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
When my son was young, he had this soft, round toy, each quadrant a different animal’s face and matching sounds to boot. We called it Piggy Cat Cow Dog. I imagine my spirit animal would have to be something like that, but an amalgamation of dog, elephant, and turtle. A dogphantle? Eleturtdog? That is awful. Let’s just go with dog. Besides, I do have a German Shepherd puppy avatar/logo in use just about everywhere.
What inspired you to write this book?
A lone, puffy cloud zigzagging in the sky. I joked to myself, “Who’s in that cloud?” and then a little voice in my head said, “Could be anyone.”
What can we expect from you in the future?
The next book in the Skyclyffe series.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
The characters who grew up on the Earth’s surface have average names, except Rex’s. You learn about how his name came to be in chapter two.
Since the characters on Skyclyffe were born on the ship or alighted in 1936 (apart from a few we can’t talk about here), their names tend to be more typical of that era. I scrolled through Most Popular Baby Names lists by year.
Advice they would give new authors?
Write because you want to, and let the book be what it wants to be.
Describe your writing style.
Positively a Plotter with a capital P, but I’m not afraid to allow new ideas in.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Be original. I kind of like that when I was querying and agents asked for comps, I couldn’t find another book to compare mine to. Harder to sell in this publishing market, but I’d rather be a Hunger Games, Harry Potter, or Twilight than one of the scores of books that came after.
Z. Moss lives in Stillwater, Minnesota and is currently working on the sequel to Skyclyffe. Two dogs, three cats, and two turtles run the household, including the real-life Radar.